Friday, December 27, 2013

Emotions run high in Texas life support case

[Today's guest post is by Rachel Cox and is part of our paid blogging program.]

Have you heard about the Texas husband who wants to remove his pregnant wife from life support?

In November, Erick Munoz’s wife Marlise, who was 14 weeks pregnant, suffered a blood clot and is still in the hospital hooked up to machines. Doctors say she is brain dead and will never recover. Erick Munoz believes the baby will have defects and the baby’s life won’t be worth living. Her husband says his wife clearly stated she never wanted to be on life support. Erick Munoz wants to “honor his wife’s wishes” and remove her from life support which would kill her and their unborn baby. However, Texas law prevents the removal of a pregnant woman from life support and Erick Munoz is publicly voicing his opposition.

After reading the comments section of this article on the story, I found myself in a very small minority of those who disagree with Erick Munoz’s desire to have his wife and unborn child taken off of life support, for several reasons.

First, when Marlise Munoz told her husband she never wanted to be on life support, did she think about the possibility that she may be pregnant when it happened? Did she consider that if kept alive, her unborn child may be able to survive? I’m going to guess she probably didn’t think about that, and I’m also going to guess that if she knew being kept alive now would give her child a chance at life, she would be willing to stay on life support at least long enough for the baby to be delivered. I know it must pain Erick Munoz to see his wife hooked up to a bunch of tubes, but I can’t figure out why on earth he would value his wife’s wishes more than the life of his baby.

Another issue I take with Mr. Munoz’s logic is his belief the baby will be born with problems due to the lack of oxygen it experienced when the mother’s oxygen flow was cut off. That definitely is a possibility, but it is not a certainty. Mr. Munoz said he knows the baby will have medical problems because he is a paramedic. However, doctors have said the child is too young to be able to tell at this point. I don’t understand why Mr. Munoz believes his experience as a paramedic makes him more qualified to predict the outcome of his child’s medical situation than a doctor. Besides, other cases similar to this one have resulted in healthy babies being delivered. Of course a child born with disabilities is no less a person than a healthy child, but that’s a whole separate topic that I won’t get into right now.

Why is this father trying to find all the reasons why his wife and unborn child should be removed from life support and left to die, and not the reasons why they shouldn’t? I find it very frustrating and disheartening that Erick Munoz thinks this way and also frightening that so many people actually agree with him. I believe these hopeless, negative attitudes about the Munoz family’s situation are caused mainly by one thing: abortion. Abortion causes society to devalue human beings. When the abortion industry, media, and politicians pound in our heads over and over that unborn babies are blobs of disposable tissue, it’s easier to see why someone would not be motivated to preserve the life of their “clump of cells.”

At least we can rejoice in the fact that Texas has a law which prevents misguided, emotionally distraught people from making this kind of horrible, irreversible choice. If only every state protected all stages of life in every situation.


creativepowerhouse said...

You know, that last statement you made is so important. Two years from now, when Erick is stroking his son or daughter's cheek as she lies sleeping, a perfect reflection of the love he shared with his beautiful wife, he will thank the state of Texas for safeguarding his child's life when he was in no place emotionally to make a clear, definite, logical decision.

KB said...

It is kind of mind boggling. It is sad: what does anyone possibly have to lose by terminating the pregnancy at this point? Nothing is going to bring her back. What huge sacrifice exists to anyone at this point that makes letting an unborn child complete this stage of it's life seem like a bad idea?

Vita said...

Yeah that is kinda what I was thinking also, the mother feels no pain in this circumstance and her child gets a chance to live outside of her mother's womb. It is tragic that the mother's life cannot be saved, but ending another life only compounds the tragedy.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

Texas' law is schizophrenic when it comes to fetuses. This fetus would have no protection If the woman were still conscious or woke up and asked for an abortion. I plan on blogging about this at the pro-life humanists blog in a few days' time.

ldwendy said...

You're assuming the infant will be born mentally and physically healthy. That is a very, very big assumption.

Will you say the same thing if the fetus is screaming in pain 24 hours a day two years from now, unable to crawl, babble and pass all the normal milestones from infancy to toddlerhood? What if the newly delivered infant requires round-the-clock care for the rest of his or her life on a paramedic's meager salary? Do you have any idea how negatively having to care for a severely disabled individual round the clock can have on the quality of life for a young motherless son and his grief-stricken father?

Eric Munoz is very frightened of this possibility.

As seen in the above link, the state of Texas has no compunction about cutting aid to for the care of vulnerable populations. In my opinion, Mr. Munoz has every right to be frightened. I really hope he sticks the state with the medical bills if it actually develops this way.

You want the child to live? Then YOU can cover their medical bills for the rest of his or her life if it has a very poor prognosis. Give until it hurts, as Mother Teresa likes to say.

By the way, RH Reality Check just posted an update on this story.

creativepowerhouse said...

I do. I have a disabled nephew, and I have seen firsthand the difficulties involved. I don't believe agreeing with Texas law obligates me to care for an unwanted child in another state. What I am saying is that at such an emotional time, we depend on laws to structure our moral decisions. We can also depend on government and private charity assistance. To suggest that every pro-life person should be required to care for the unwanted child of every pro-choice person is disingenuous. We do our best. And I have no doubt that someone will step in to adopt this child if his dad doesn't want to raise him. You seem to be suggesting that a child who isn't wanted or who may potentially be handicapped should be killed. I disagree with that premise.

ldwendy said...

"We can also depend on government and private charity assistance. "

Government assistance for people with disabilities has been cut in red states for the last few years. Texas is one state that fall in this category - see the link in my previous post.

My point is the amount of funding required to cover lifetime care for a severely or profoundly disabled person may not be met as so long state legislatures have no problems giving tax breaks to the rich while cutting funds for Medicaid and Medicare.

"And I have no doubt that someone will step in to adopt this child if his dad doesn't want to raise him."

You sound very sure of yourself. For the sake of this child, I hope you are right.

Anton said...

Well said. I can't believe the lack of empathy in the pro-life community for this man. It's as if their moralism is so pathological that they demand that this child be born, regardless of the father's wishes, even if the baby will live a life of deprivation and disability.
Pro-life is a hate group, plain and simple.

Rachel Anne Enders said...

I just see Texas' laws in general as being schizophrenic - the GOP politicians are caring about the unborn, but yet they have the death penalty. It just seems like a place where too many interests are working against each other for things to get done.

Rachel Anne Enders said...

The general response I've been seeing on tumblr is that they're making the woman an incubator. What I say is "two humans are on life support right now". It takes it back to the argument of personhood rather than the situation, which I see as a useful tool.

Maureen said...

Thank you for this. I wonder if TJ Morbelli would have any words of wisdom for Erick Munoz. Although a different situation, TJ lost his wife Jennifer and unborn daughter to a late term abortion that went wrong. The Morbelli's were given and adverse pre-natal diagnosis ( Feel so very sad for both of these families. Hoping Erick Munoz finds the strength and courage to allow his child to be born and love him or her no matter what.

Maureen said...

What a sad society we have become when we look at people with severe disabilities and place monetary value on them and the "cost" that they will incur and the burden the time and effort will be to care for them. How sad that we look at them and say we are doing them and their families or caretakers a disservice by allowing them to live, that they would be better off dead so money can be saved, and we don't have to worry about burdening the people with their care.

Rachel Anne Enders said...

Pro-Life isn't a group. Perhaps the AHA is. Some could argue that Operation Rescue is a hateful group. However, I doubt you could possibly call SPL a hate group.

Rachel Anne Enders said...

According to the husband, she didn't want to be left on life support if she ended up in a similar situation.

KB said...

so? If it were just her, then those wishes should be followed. It's not just her though. There is another person there. As it is, when that person is safe, her wishes will be followed to a T.

Besides, I'd be squeemish about taking someone off of life support if there was no documentation that she wanted to be. Not calling the husband a liar, or saying she didn't verbally express that. Just that legally, following such a directive without documentation can easily be abused.

Rachel Anne Enders said...

I definitely agree with you. I see two people on life support, and the father of the baby isn't thinking about the baby's life.

I'm just saying what I've seen.

Elizabeth said...

It is my view that the life of the unborn child deserves every chance to thrive, and go through the gestational process, whether there is a healthy prognosis or not. It is a sad situation to grieve the loss of this mother, but has anyone considered that it could be her last and most profound gift to her child to remain on life support to allow this chance for her child? We are not talking about a single woman's DNR request who is not pregnant. In this case, there are two people to consider. It changes everything, if she is carrying a child. If you were to put the question to her, I wonder if she would change the directive in love for her unborn child. I know I would. And as far as the "abnormality" presented, in terms of what the scans show, namely hydrocephalus, which can be treated these days even in utero, and indicates a neural tube defect, the medical community knows full well, that treatment and longevity for these babies can be successful, and that children are received with love, and thrive in supportive families, many adopted. I have such a Child, who despite the surgical procedures and limitations, has gone on to being a remarkable, intelligent member of society, a beautiful Mother herself, recently adopting a new infant. I pray we change from being a self centered, self serving society to one of compassion and charity. God bless this little one, who most want to ignore or discard. Elizabeth

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Like I tell PETA. You want it you pay for it.